FEBRUARY SKYNOTES, 2020

FEBRUARY STAR CHART, 2020
Please click on the Chart to enlarge, if necessary.

The chart shows the whole sky, at the times given at the top left of the chart.
The edge of the chart is the HORIZON, and the ZENITH is at the centre.
This chart is for LATITUDE 54 degrees NORTH, and is produced using 'CYBERSKY' Software and 'PLANETARIUM GOLD' software.

FEBRUARY SKYNOTES 2020

 

FEBRUARY 2020.

 

 

 

As the month starts, the Sun lies within the constellation of Capricornus, the Sea Goat until it crosses the border with Aquarius on the 16th at around 20h, where it remains until the month’s end.

The Moon

The Moon’s perigee (nearest to the Earth) occurs at 20h on the 10th, and apogee (furthest from the Earth) is on the 26th at 11h.

 New Moon is on the 23rd at 15h23 in the constellation of Aquarius, 5° south of the Sun.

First Quarter takes place on the 2nd at 01h42 on the Aries/Cetus  border.

 Full Moon is on the 9th at 07h34 to the left of Leo’s ‘Sickle'

Last Quarter Moon is on Feb 15th at 22h18 in Libra, approaching Scorpius.

Look out for ‘Earthshine’ illuminating the dark hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon during the last week of the month,. Look also for earthshine on the waning crescent Moon from the 16th to the 22nd.

Earthshine is a beautiful naked eye phenomenon, but if you turn your binoculars towards the Moon, it is a truly magical sight.

The Planets

Mercury (in Aquarius) is an evening object which may be seen low in the fading twilight for the first three weeks of the month. Search for it with binoculars in the WSW sky, when the tiny elusive jewel of light may be seen in the twilight. The planet reaches its greatest elongation east of the Sun (18°) on the 10th; after which it moves in to inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 26th.

Venus is a resplendent evening object throughout the entire month, and may be seen in the west for four hours after the Sun sets. It is, as always, the third brightest celestial object as seen from Earth, after the Sun and the Moon. Venus is so bright that it can cast the shadow of your finger onto a white sheet of paper when it is held between Venus and the paper. You must of course have no interference from the Moon if it is in the sky, and any artificial light. The magnitude of Venus is (minus) -4.1. As twilight fades on the evening of the 27th, there is the beautiful spectacle of the waxing crescent Moon with earthshine on the Moon’s night hemisphere in conjunction with Venus. The two are separated by 6° at 19h with the Moon to the lower left of the ‘Evening Star’.

During February Mars rises a couple of hours before the Sun, and may be searched for as twilight begins low in the SE in the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer. The planet has the appearance of a reddish first magnitude star, slowly increasing in brightness as Earth moves towards it and its opposition, in October. On the morning of the 18th at 05h, the waning crescent Moon, with earthshine, can be seen approaching Mars as the two are rising low in the SE. Seen close to the Moon, the reddish colour of Mars is clearly visible.

During February Jupiter emerges from the glare of the Sun, and by the end of the month, the planet rises almost two hours before the Sun. It lies in the constellation of Sagittarius, like Mars, and because of this, must be looked for low in the SE sky as it is rising at about 06h. At 06h on the 19th, the waning crescent Moon with earthshine lies 6° to the west (right) of Jupiter and 9° to the east (lower left) of Mars. The season for observing the planet with its satellites is under way, so sharply focussed firmly fixed binoculars will reveal the disc of the planet and the ever-changing positions of the Galilean satellites.

At the beginning of February, Saturn, also in Sagittarius, rises in the SE, just less than an hour before the Sun, and by the end of the month is rising just 80 minutes before the Sun; therefore throughout the month, Saturn and its rings are difficult to observe. The waning crescent Moon and Saturn may be seen rising in the SE at around 06h30 on the morning of the 20th; the use of binoculars in the bright twilight should help you locate them as they lie 4° apart.

Uranus is visible in the evening sky, but sets by midnight, mid-month.  It lies in the southern reaches of Aries and its nightly position can be found on the Remote Planets page, via the MENU tab.

Neptune, isstill in the constellation of Aquarius, but sets soon after the Sun during this month, and is therefore very difficult to observe. However, its nightly position may be found on the Remote Planets page accessible via the Menu.

There are no major meteor showers during the month, and so we expect to see the normal background rate of four noticeable events during each hour of the night.

Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: Cancer, Leo, Hydra, with its brightest star Alphard (‘the solitary one’), and the faint constellation of Sextans the Sextant, to be found just below Leo’s brightest star Regulus.

All times are GMT     1° is one finger width at arm’s length.

 

 

The phenomena of the month : February 2020


Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0).

Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm

2020 02 02 01:42 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2020 02 02 13:17 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 02 02 21:09 Opposition of the asteroid 37 Fides with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.371 AU; magn. = 10.1)
2020 02 03 06:44 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 04 21:29 Beginning of occultation of 106 Tau (magn. = 5.28)
2020 02 04 22:16 End of occultation of 106 Tau (magn. = 5.28)
2020 02 05 08:14 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 02 05 23:51 Close encounter between the Moon and M 35 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.9°)
2020 02 06 02:12 Beginning of occultation of 7-eta Gem, Propus, (magn. = 3.35)
2020 02 06 03:00 End of occultation of 7-eta Gem, Propus, (magn. = 3.35)
2020 02 06 03:33 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 06 05:29 Beginning of occultation of 13-mu Gem (magn. = 2.87)
2020 02 07 21:17 Beginning of occultation of 10-mu2 Cnc (magn. = 5.30)
2020 02 07 22:04 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 02 07 22:27 End of occultation of 10-mu2 Cnc (magn. = 5.30)
2020 02 09 00:23 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 09 00:42 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 02 09 07:33 FULL MOON
2020 02 09 22:58 Close encounter between the Moon and Regulus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.1°)
2020 02 10 10:38 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2020 02 10 12:00 GREATEST EASTERN ELONGATION of Mercury (18.2°)
2020 02 10 20:30 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 360461 km)
2020 02 11 21:12 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 12 05:00 Mercury at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.30749 AU)
2020 02 12 12:28 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 02 13 06:52 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 02 14 18:01 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 15 22:17 LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2020 02 17 14:51 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 18 05:59 Close encounter between Mars and M 8 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.7°)
2020 02 18 15:40 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 02 19 04:18 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 02 19 16:42 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 02 20 11:40 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 23 08:29 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 23 09:12 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2020 02 23 15:32 NEW MOON
2020 02 24 00:27 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 02 26 01:45 INFERIOR CONJUNCTION of Mercury with the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 3.7°)
2020 02 26 05:19 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 26 11:35 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 406278 km)
2020 02 26 20:56 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 02 28 22:56 Close encounter between Mars and M 22 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.3°)
2020 02 29 02:08 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 02 29 07:54 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 02 29 09:15 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

 

Generated using COELIX APEX software

FEBRUARY 2020 LUNAR OCCULTATIONS VISIBLE FROM SCARBOROUGH, UK. Time = UT (GMT)